In October last year, CRJ looked at rising industrial unrest across Europe, noting how this can often tip over into violence. We warned emergency planners and facilities managers to review their resilience and contingency arrangements.
In the last 12 months protest has become widespread, powerful, media aware and directed against many targets, notably austerity measures, unemployment, corruption, social inequality and government.
We have seen the mostly peaceful and often good-humoured movements occupying Wall Street in New York, the St Paul’s camp in London, and other cities. We have observed the earnest anger of the ‘Indignants’ in Spain.
We have watched Arab Spring protests evolving into full-blown revolutions, toppling governments in their wake. And we have witnessed more violent protests against austerity measures, the Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver and the opportunistic looting that engulfed London and other urban areas in August (p20).
The effects of protest, violent or otherwise, are widespread. Frontline services – Fire, Police, Ambulance – often come under attack when responding during disorder, all the while acutely aware that their tactics will be scrutinised and criticised afterwards. Local governments need effective contingency plans to help those made homeless and to restore communities.
It is equally important that commercial enterprises review their plans. They must ensure business continuity and resilience. They have an obligation to ensure the safety of their employees (p34). They might – undeservedly or otherwise – become direct targets of protest and be caught up in the ensuing media maelstrom; it would also be wise to have a media strategy in place (p48).
These angry times are a challenge to all those who need to ensure safety, resilience and continuity.
This blog was first published in 2011